Leaflet: Clavicle fracture exercises

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Last updated: March 2020

Clavical fracture exercises

These exercises are designed to guide you through the next few months with some simple exercises to gradually increase your movement, decrease your pain and steadily improve your function. Download the PDF version for images to help with the exercises.

For the first 6 weeks keep your arm in the sling 24 hours a day.

Exercises

Remove the sling and practice the first set of exercises.

Once you can move your neck, elbow and hand and fingers easily you can stop these exercises.

Do this little and often through the day, a few of each movement.

A. 
Stand beside a table, leaning on your forearm. Gently let your other arm hang relaxed down – this will allow you to wash under your arm

B.
Sitting. Tilt your head toward one shoulder until you feel the stretch on the opposite side. Hold approx. 2-3 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Repeat to the other side

C.
Sitting. Turn your head to one side until you feel a stretch. Hold approx. 2-3 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Repeat to other side.

D.
Stand – remove the sling – keep your upper arm close to the body. Slowly bend and straighten your elbow. Repeat 5 times

E.
Stand with your elbow bent and palm turned down. Turn your palm up and down rotating your forearm.

Keep your upper arm next to your body. Repeat 5 times.

D.
Practice regularly throughout the day:

  • Move your wrist up and down
  • Make a full fist and fully straighten your fingers
  • Touch your thumb to the tips of all your fingers

E.
Lie on your back with your arm by your side, slightly away from your body. Place a folded towel under the upper arm. Elbow is bent to 90 degrees and hand points towards the ceiling. Hold a stick with both hands so that the palm of the affected side is facing upwards.

Keep your elbow bent during the movement. Rotate your arm outwards as far as comfortable. Return to the starting position.

You can also practice in sitting – but be careful to keep your body still.

F.
Lie on your back.

Use your un-injured arm to gently lift your injured shoulder up to shoulder height only.

You can also practice in sitting – but be careful to keep your body still.

G.
Slide your hands along the table until the upper arm is approximately at shoulder height. Let the un-injured arm help and the table will take the weight of the arm.

From 6 weeks – 12 weeks

Removing your sling
Start weaning from your sling, the easiest way is to gradually use the sling less and less over a few days. You may find it useful to continue to wear it initially if you are out and about in a busy environment or a for a long period of time. Continue to support the weight of your arm on cushions or pillows whenever you are sitting, this will help to keep your arm feeling comfortable.

Using your arm
You can start using your arm gradually when you come out of the sling, light activities no more weight than a cup of tea. All movements should be with your elbow bent and within your field of vision. It is important at this early stage not to lift anything heavy and avoid lifting the arm straight in front of you or out to the side.

Try and avoid repetitive overhead activity.

Pain relief
Your shoulder may feel comfortable while you have been in the sling and you may have stopped taking your pain relief. It is not unusual at this stage, when you start increasing your activities and exercises, that your shoulder may become more uncomfortable. It is important at this stage to take your pain relief if necessary, to allow you to gradually get your shoulder moving and increase your activity level.

Continue with the same exercises – but start to gradually increase how far you can move your arm and try and use your injured arm to do more of the work until you can do the exercises without the help of the un-injured arm.

Exercises from 8 weeks

From 8 weeks start these gentle strengthening exercises and start practicing reaching across your body and behind your back.

A.
Stand or sit. Hold your arm close to your body with your elbow at a right angle.

Try to move your hand inward, resisting the movement with the other hand. There should be no movement.

Hold 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times

B.
Stand or sit. Hold your arm close to your body with your elbow at a right angle.

Try to move your hand inward, resisting the movement with the other hand. There should be no movement.

Hold 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times

C.
Stand up tall or sit up straight.

Gently reach across your chest and place the hand over the opposite shoulder – reach as far as is comfortable. Use the other hand to support and for help if necessary.

D.

Stand tall. Gently bring your arm behind your back and bend your elbow. Slide your hand upwards between your shoulder blades and assist with your other hand as much as needed.

Exercises from 10 weeks

From 10 weeks – you may feel that you can start working on your strength – you can decrease or stop the other exercises if they are easy.

If you can comfortably lift the weight of your arm – consider starting the next set of exercises.

Initially – practice just moving the weight of your arm, when that is easy try adding a small weight (partially filled bottle of water) and then gradually increase as able.

Practice each exercise until tired 1 x a day.

A.
Standing or sitting.

Start with no weights and gradually increase the weight as able. Lift your shoulders towards your ears and slowly lower them back down.

B.
Stand or sit holding your hands on your chest. Start with no weight and gradually increase as able.

Steadily lift both arms from your chest straight up and slowly back down – keeping your elbows tucked in by your side.

C.
Lie on your side. Place a folded towel between your upper arm and side. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees.

Start with no weight and gradually increase as able.

Lift your hand up and slowly back down.

D.
Stand next to a wall. Place your hands on the wall, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and fingers pointing upwards. Body is in a straight line.

Keep body in a straight line and shoulders down. Bend your arms and lower your chest towards the wall. Straighten your arms and push back away from the wall.

E.
Stand with your arm out to the side. Hold onto a rubber exercise band.

Pull the band in towards your side.

 

This information was provided by North Bristol NHS Trust‘s orthopaedic team.